lint filter on tumble dryer

How Often Should You Clean the Lint Filter on a Tumble Dryer?

Laundry is a never-ending chore! But thankfully, appliances have made this process much quicker and more convenient.

One such appliance is a tumble dryer. Whereas you typically have to wait at least a day for your clothing to dry, a tumble dryer can easily do the job in a couple of hours.

The lint filter in a tumble dryer is essential for preventing lint build-up and improving efficiency.

Unfortunately, many people overlook them and forget to regularly clean them out. So, how often should lint filters be cleaned? Read on to learn everything you need to know!

dryer lint


How Often Do You Need to Clean the Lint Filter?

Anyone that uses a tumble dryer knows how quickly lint builds up in the machine! The job of your tumble dryer’s lint filter is to catch any lint in the appliance so that it doesn’t block the vent.

To ensure the filter can do this properly, it’s best to clean it between every load of laundry.

Some modern machines remind you to do this before starting the drying cycle, but in most cases, you must remember to do this yourself before putting your laundry in to spin.

It is also a good idea to clean the dryer vent out once a year to ensure that any lint that got through is removed and that your appliance is safe to use.

The lint you collect can be thrown out, but there are also various ways to use it around the home, such as for packing material or pet bedding.


What Is Lint in the Tumble Dryer?

dryer lint

This grey fluff is often mistaken for dust, but it is actually made up of fabric fibres that have come off of your laundry.

Natural fabrics are more likely to contribute to this build-up, but synthetic materials will also cause some lint to form.

The process starts while you wear and wash your clothes, as the friction causes some of the fibres to become loose.

The high temperatures and agitation used in the tumble dryer then cause these loose fibres to detach from your clothing, forming lint.

This explains why lint appears after every cycle and should be removed before the next one.


What Is the Best Way to Clean a Lint Filter?

dryer lint filter

Once you know the proper technique, cleaning out the lint filter is very straightforward.

Step 1: Locate and remove the lint trap

Before you begin, though, you need to locate the lint trap. You can check your user manual to find out its location and how to access it, but it will be found in one of three places:

  • Inside the dryer door: If your lint trap is located inside the dryer door, a small handle can be used to remove the filter. In some cases, the screen can simply be scooped out with your finger instead.
  • On the back wall: The lint trap on the back wall of a dryer will look like a square opening with small holes in it. To remove the filter, you simply have to squeeze the sides and use the holes to pull out the screen with your fingers.
  • On the top right corner of the dryer: Some lint traps will be found on the top right corner of your tumble dryer, near the control panel. These traps usually have a small handle that can be used to remove the filter screen.


Step 2: Clean the lint trap

cleaning dryer lint trap

Once you have removed your lint filter from the appliance, scoop out as much fluff as possible using your fingers.

Most of the time, this will be enough to clean the screen completely, but any greasy build-up must be washed off with hot water and soap.

To do this, simply scrub at the filter using a soft brush, rinse off the residue, and reinsert it into the trap once it is dry.

As a general rule, we suggest washing your filter in this way at least once every three months to ensure a thorough clean.


Step 3: Hoover behind the lint trap

While the filter is out of the machine, we also suggest hoovering behind the trap to remove any lint that has managed to get past it.

If you’re cleaning the vent, you may also want to purchase a duct cleaning kit, as your vacuum cleaner may not remove all the build-up.


What Happens If You Don’t Clean the Lint Filter?

dyer lint as fire hazard

For many of us, our weekly list of chores is a mile long. This causes many people to cut corners, especially when it comes to out-of-sight tasks, such as cleaning the lint filter.

Unfortunately, this can cause you some problems, both of which are detailed below.

1. Restricted airflow

As lint builds up in your dryer, the filter and vents become blocked. This restricts the airflow around the machine, meaning your dryer has to work harder to dry your clothes.

It will also mean that the machine has to run for longer periods of time to achieve the same results.

When this happens, you will notice much more lint in the machine than usual, and the appliance may also feel hot to the touch when in use.

Overall, this puts unnecessary strain on your appliance and uses more energy, ultimately costing you more money.

For example, the cost of running a tumble dryer is up to £84 a year at the time of writing, but a blocked filter could increase this by £34. Add to this the price for any needed and avoidable emergency repairs, and the cost of using your appliance soon adds up.


2. Fire hazard

Not only does a build-up of lint impact the efficiency of your tumble dryer, but it also poses a fire risk. This is because lint is highly flammable and can act like kindling when exposed to the high temperatures used in a tumble dryer.

In fact, failure to regularly clean out the lint filter and vent is one of the primary causes of tumble dryer fires, according to the HSE. These can cause significant damage to your home and pose a serious risk to your life and safety.